Tuesday, March 4, 2014

16th Birthday

"We're buying these party hats for people...not a cat," I said overly loudly to my wife as we walked through the dollar store, giggling helplessly.  "No one would buy party hats for a cat.  Who would do such a thing?"


Yesterday was Higgy the cat's 16th birthday, and since he's been diagnosed with lymphatic cancer, it's in all likelihood his last birthday, so we decided to make a really big deal of it to celebrate the life of our weird, furry, treasured friend.

I can't say that Higgy did not hate his race-car themed party hat, but he did enjoy tuna, cake, and ice cream.  Not all at once...of course.  That's just gross.

Higgy's favorite part of the party was probably that the kittens were not invited.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Timex Ironman Triathlon, my A**

Back in December, Chris and I went on a weeklong cruise on the Carnival Pride out of Baltimore.  It was a wonderful week of relaxation, eating, tropical adventures, and eating. 

The time on the ship was relaxing and fun, but the highlights of the vacation were our two excursions in Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas.

In Nassau, we had the chance to cruise around town on Segways, which I can't recommend enough.  We had guides and they did tell us stuff about Bahamian culture and history, which is very interesting, but all that edumacation is balanced out by riding around on such silly vehicles.






Our other excursion, in Freeport on Grand Bahama, was very educational.  Our guide's pride in his island's culture and people just shone through in every word he spoke.  We saw learned a lot, and saw many historical sites, and also had a chance to go snorkeling at a place called either "Paradise Cove" or "Dead Man's Reef", depending on which sign you looked at.

Here, at this gorgeous beach, I had a great time swimming and saw many beautiful fish.  I made it back, but my until-then trusty watch did not.  After a few minutes in the water, the time jumped an hour forward, causing me to think that our whole group was going to miss our ride back to the boat and be stuck at Dead Man's reef forever.  I'll be honest, I wouldn't have really minded.  A little while later, it stopped working altogether, and when I got out of the water it fluctuated between complete watch death and displaying nonsensical signals that probably signaled the Bahamian Apocalypse.

(Cause of death: drowning)

I took it to the jeweler last week to see if a new battery would save it, and he said the inside was corroded.  While it's my fault for A) waiting months to take it in and B) thinking I could snorkel with a $40 watch, the watch was supposed to be water resistant up to 100 meters and it is branded "triathlon".  If Timex is going to call a watch that, it should be able to go for a swim.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Remember Your Victories, or "From Russia with Love"

I'm pretty good at owning my failures.  When I screw up at work, which is rare, I take accountability for fixing the problem.  Now that I'm completely out of shape, I recognize that there are no excuses.  I'm the one who didn't work hard enough.  I'm the one who didn't eat right.  And while I'm not so great at fixing those things, I am really, really good at kicking myself when I'm down and feeling like a complete loser compared to where I was a little over two years ago.

And yet, one positive thing that's happening within my little Brian brain recently is that despite the pain and struggles (lots of compartment syndrome symptoms on my last two runs), I'm starting to think of myself as a runner again, and I think that's somewhat I'm important.  But I also want to do a better job of owning my successes.  I may not be anywhere half-marathon or marathon shape, but I still ran two of each.  Those accomplishments are not taken away from me.  I don't say that so that I can rest on those laurels, but to remind myself of what I accomplished once, what I can still be proud of, and what I hope to accomplish again.





Shaun White lost in his bid for a third-straight Olympic gold medal in the snowboard half-pipe tonight.  They don't take away his gold from Torino or Vancouver.  He's still the greatest-ever in his sport, and indeed probably the only one from his sport that a lot of Americans can even name. 

I am not comparing myself to Shaun White.  He finished fourth at the Olympics.  I suck at running right now and would need some walk breaks to finish a 5K.  But those medals, from Virginia Beach and Philadelphia, they are still mine. I want to run to those distances again, and I'm going to work to get back to racing shape and to my goal weight, but even if I never run those distances again, those moments -- those successes of which I am proud -- they are part of me and they can't be taken away.  








I think it might help me to occasionally remember that.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

By the Old Garmin and the New

Remember when I lost my RoadID?  I finally broke down and ordered a new one, and then found the old one the very same day that its replacement arrived.

It's a good thing I learned my lesson.  Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

 You see, I'd misplaced my Garmin at some point in the Summer, and it had gotten to the point where I was using that (as an admittedly weak) excuse for being even more sloppy in my training than usual.

Following the KidsPeace Orioles Trick-or-Trot 5K, Chris and I stopped at Charm City Run's McHenry Row store, and I purchased a new Garmin Forerunner 10.  Of course, one week later, I found my (somewhat) trusty Garmin Forerunner 201.


As you can see, the Forerunner 10 on the left is roughly half the size of the 201.  Indeed, it is only a little or no bigger than many non-GPS sports watches.  I've been wearing as a watch a little too often, since my Timex Ironman died in the Bahamas, which is a blog entry for another day.  Still, since you never know when a 5K might break out, I don't see the harm in that.

The Forerunner 10 also picks up satellites much faster than 201 did, and seems to connect with them a little more often to give a slightly more precise measurement.  I've meant to wear both of them on a run to compare their measurements, but A) that's really dorky and B) I have enough trouble remember to bring one GPS. The Forerunner 10 connects easily to upload run data to www.garminconnect.com, where run data and maps are displayed.

The Forerunner 10 isn't all pizza and beer, though. It does have a few disadvantages to the 201.  I prefer the 201's larger display, which lets me look at time, speed/pace, and distance all one screen to the 10s smaller screen that only displays two measurements at a time. In the photo above, time and distance are displayed are displayed on the 10 and time, speed, and distance on the 201.

That said, I chose the 10 for it's relatively low price point and the salesperson's advice that would provide features and functionality similar to the 201, which has been discontinued.  That is definitely true, even if the display is set up differently.  Since I only use speed, pace/distance, time, and occasionally the virtual training partner, the Forerunner 10 is certainly sufficient for me.

I've been warned that battery life on the Forerunner 10 is limited to about 4 hours.  I'm a long way from testing that, but if that proves to be the case I'll have to go back to the 201 for longer marathon training runs...but that's a long way off.

I should also mention that the band on my Forerunner 10 broke when the unit was less than two months old.  While that's a negative, I got excellent customer service from Garmin, which replaced the band very quickly at no cost.  Replacement bands are available when I need to replace it again, hopefully in a more normal timeframe.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Negativity Reigns

Usually on Monday morning, I'll remark to one of my coworkers, "Is it Friday, yet?"  I suspect I'm not alone in wanting to rush through the work week to get to the fun part.

Unfortunately, it didn't take too long into this year for me to say "Is it 2015, yet?"

Within the two months of 2014:

  • Our nice old cat, Higgy, who is almost 16, was diagnosed with kitty lymphoma -- the vet drained over a pound of fluid out of him.  He's comfortable and happy, as much as we can tell, for now, but there's nothing that can be done for the poor little guy other than give him meds to slow the buildup of fluid around his lungs and spoil him rotten for as long as we can.
  • I had the flu, and as soon as I got better, Chris got sick.  So we were collectively ill for about two and a half weeks.
  • We had to spend more money on my old car, which I do love, than is probably worth sinking into a 2004 Neon with 140,000ish miles on it, but due to another consideration, it made sense to avoid another car payment.
  •  I got some bad news about my job, which was demoralizing in context of the massive amount of work I did last year and seems to be continuing this year.  
  • Lost our power in the big ice storm that hit the Mid-Atlantic on Wednesday.  Power was restored about 40 hours later, meaning that were actually relatively lucky, but during that time we just felt, well...powerless.

(Higgy the Cat, shown in front of his favorite heating vent, doesn't know anything's wrong, but
 he is SUPER pissed that he had to be shaved on the coldest day of the year.)

  I know there's an easy counter to each of those:  "It's good that you got have your cat for that long and that he had a great life"; "You weren't that sick"; "At least you have a car"; "Too much work is better than not enough"; "At least you have a (usually) warm house to live in."

I know. I know.  All of those are completely true, and I recognize that overall, I've got it pretty good and that almost everything I'm complaining about is a "first world problem".  Still, it's been enough bad luck in such a short time that I'm just feeling like it's one bad thing after another this year, and having trouble getting out of that negative mindset.

Since I can't make 2015 get here any faster, I need to find a way to reset my way of thinking, and since running had -- until this week -- actually been starting to go pretty well again, I think it's time to cut this blog entry short and head out on the road.

I'm sure that it'll also help when we win the Powerball tonight.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Don't Call it a Comeback...Yet

My running goal for January was to be able to run two miles without any walk breaks by the end of January.  Nailed it.  Let's not talk about the weight loss goal.  January was a bad month for a lot of reasons, but I've got to get with it.

My goal for February is to be able to run four miles by the end of the month with no walk breaks.  I think I'm off to a pretty good start.  I ran 3 today, although I did take the "one-minute walk break every half mile" at 2 and 2.5 mile marks.  Total was 3.0mi in 32:18.  I can build on that.

What wasn't so good is that for the first time in several months I really felt the compartment syndrome symptoms.  I'm not going to panic, yet, because I don't think I was hydrated well, I haven't been as diligent with stretching and strength-training on off-days, and this was the first time I've tried a run this far since a sloppy 5K in December where we did a lot of walking just because of the muddy and snowy terrain.

So, while I'm not quaking in terror, I'm not jumping for joy, either.  

 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

2 Miles Down, a Lot to Go.

One of my goals was to be able to run two miles without a walk break by the end of January.  

Bam!

2 miles, 20:07, 0 walk breaks.  I'm back!  Atlantic City Half Marathon here I freakin' come!  Ok, not quite.  But I can build on this.

I was surprised that today's run was relatively good, whereas my last run, on Monday, was relatively bad (I took a walk break every half mile as planned, but still needed an extra one at the end to get through 2 miles) and I hadn't done anything else all week other than stretching.

I think my secret was that it was under 20 degrees today, and I somehow get stronger as the temperature drops.  Sadly, 2 miles is not far enough to get a massive ice buildup in my beard.  My Viking invasion will have to wait.